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Arjang A. Assad – Henry E. Haller Jr. dean of the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration – came to Pitt seven years ago with high expectations, he said, after serving as dean of the Katz School of Business Administration. University at Buffalo, State University of New York, for the same duration.

“Of course, every school is different and the challenges are different,” Assad said, “and I was glad to come to Pitt and learn a little more. I expected to work with a better faculty and a more accomplished research faculty so that the flow of ideas would be better ”- which would help cause a lot of changes, he said. “What I didn’t expect is also what great staff the school had,” he added.

Both the undergraduate and graduate curricula were renewed during his time, Assad noted, and he convened faculty teams to help decide where the business schools should be headed.

“I always believe that every achievement is part of teamwork,” he said. “I think it deserves the whole school.”

Now he will leave the deanery at the end of this month, leading the school to its highest national ranks in history.

Through some early expansion and the replacement of retirees, Assad has now recruited 40 percent of the school’s 90 full-time faculties. They helped him institute new programs, especially in partnership with the schools of the health sciences, including the Executive MBA in Health Care program, now in its fifth grade. A new non-degree program with the School of Medicine is new this fall, aimed at helping experienced medical professionals improve their management skills.

Assad also launched the first online programs at Katz, starting with the Professional MBA program, now ranked number five in the nation after just four years. A new Executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program will begin this fall. Other business schools offer DBAs, he said, “but there aren’t as many research schools that will do it the way we do it.”

And the high ranks seem to keep coming: Number 10 among public business schools for the College of Business Administration, by Poets & amp; Amounts (which may have been a factor in the CBA seeing an 80 percent jump in applications this year); Katz’s full-time MBA ranked by Financial Times in the top 20 among U.S. audiences during the eighth straight year; and the Executive MBA and Executive MBA Healthcare ranked in the same Financial Times spot among U.S. audiences for 2021.

Despite his experience in Buffalo, there were certainly things Assad said he didn’t expect from his years at Pitt – from the effort required to go away in just two weeks when COVID-19 hit, for which he has great praise for school staff , to the budgetary restructuring process in which he participated.

Assad will take a year before returning to full-time teaching, probably in operations and business analysis and possibly in the Honorary College of Decision Analysis, a topic that touches on many different fields.

“It’s always good to have new leadership and new ideas,” he said of his reason for retiring as dean. He has already met with his successor, Eugene Anderson, recently dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

“There are certain things we do that I think should go on that have been successful and I think they make a lot of sense,” Assad said – especially the health partnership. “We have to keep up that momentum.”

But if asked, he said, “I would tell the new dean to think about what he would do for the school that is brand new. Be bold and come up with new ideas.”

Marty Levine is a work writer for the University Times. Contact him at or 412-758-4859.

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